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Move to sell boarded-up 'eyesore' welcomed
COUNCIL bosses have moved to force the sale of an “eyesore” former hotel and offices in Banbury Town centre for housing.
Cherwell District Council has applied for a compulsory purchase order (CPO) to buy boarded-up Crown House in Bridge Street and turn it into 33 affordable flats.
It has only asked for one other CPO in the last five years but said it had to act after failing to reach a deal with owner Slighte Limited.
Lead member for Banbury Brighter Futures, John Donaldson, said: “It is a real eyesore and it has been like that for 20-odd years. We have had problems with rough sleepers in the building for a while. It is just falling into disrepair.”
Mr Donaldson said it was a “shame” the council had felt the need for a CPO, which it refused to give the value of because of commercial confidentiality.
He added: “We want to make best use of it and turn it into something useable. Social housing is in demand at the moment.”
The council is under massive pressure to provide more social housing and recently slashed its 4,000 waiting list by 2,800.
It said those who came off had little or no chance of getting a property.
The building was previously owned by Hunt Edmonds Brewery and the Crown Hotel and was last used as offices. Bower and Bailey, agents for the owners, had yet to comment at the time of going to press.
Banbury Civic Society chairman Rob Kinchin-Smith welcomed the move.
He said: “It is good to see the council taking action to create some much needed housing. Everybody will be pleased to see the building put back into use even though it is not an architectural gem.
“It is horrendously ugly the way it is now with pigeons flying in and out.”
He said: “It is interesting to see the council is going to invest in housing. There have been proposals to knock it down and build another shopping centre on site.
“I don’t think Banbury needs yet another large retail centre. This seems like a reasonable use of the building.”
Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, will make a decision on the order.
If granted, the scheme – for one and two bedroom flats – will need planning permission for a 2014 start.
The council’s last order was for the redevelopment of Bicester town centre in 2010.
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